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Aug 24, 2010

Some thoughts on: The Switch

* Have no fear - Jennifer Aniston's streak of starring in mildly entertaining "pablum" (to quote Mrs. Fletch) remains intact. The Switch is a high concept romantic comedy that's not entirely funny and not remotely romantic. There's nothing terrible about Aniston here, but the film certainly seems to be at its best when she's not on screen, as scenes between Jason Bateman and fill-in-the-blank (the kid, Jeff Goldblum, or Patrick Wilson) are far more interesting and endearing.

* Poor Goldblum. I'm not positive, but I think his character's name was "Comic Relief." His character was thinner than a strand of hair. He pops in ever 25 minutes for 90 seconds of screen time in which he bags on Bateman and doles out gems such as "Oooohhh...that's...not advisable." Somehow, despite the overwhelming unfunniness of his lines, The Patented Goldblum Delivery seems to make every line reading go over a bit better than it should.

* Then again, Goldblum has a plum role compared to Juliette Lewis' - I'm no fan of her anyway, but her plum role was not only similarly thin (the wacky BFF!) but annoying as hell. Props, however, to whomever decided that it was a good idea to cast both Aniston and Lewis (former exes of Brad Pitt and examples from a post here a couple weeks ago), in a movie about artificial insemination and a woman who can't find a good man, no less.

* Daniel over at Getafilm has a recurring series on his site about things that happen only in the movies, i.e. why does everyone still have an answering machine? Here's another to add to that list:

Early on in The Switch, Bateman and Aniston step outside the party they're attending to have a private chat on a balcony. They're bickering/bantering, and before you know it, unexpectedly, Aniston pulls a cigarette out of her purse and puts it in her mouth. Since the rules of Rom-Com bantering state that this must happen (apparently), Bateman, mid-snark, snatches the cancer stick from her mouth and tosses it off the balcony.

Thankfully, this wasn't the scenario where the one person is quitting and the other grabs the cigarette mid-light, but it's essentially the same. The action is never spoken of - it merely happens, with Aniston merely showing a look of surprise - quickly - before returning to bickering about whatever they were bickering about.


This scene bothered me on so many levels. For starters, it's hackneyed. Larger than that, as a smoker, I can tell you that if you did that to me, I'd probably do a lot more than shoot you a mildly dirty look. I'd say something along the lines of "What the f*ck did you do that for?" Keep in mind also that Bateman is playing her BFF of many years - it ain't like he doesn't know she smokes, and it ain't like she's not comfortable enough with him to say something. And those little bastards aren't cheap, especially in New York.

Oh, but wait, there's more.

At no point before or after this moment in the film does another cigarette enter the frame. Why was this supposed character trait (if you can call it that) even introduced? If they wished to intimate that, after having given birth, she chose to quit, be my guest. But it's never acknowledged in the slightest. I'm completely baffled.

* Considering that this was his first feature film and only second credit (after a single episode of Heroes in 2008), a job well done to Thomas Robinson, the cute-as-a-button-kid hired to play the spawn of Bateman and Aniston. Although the character starts out unbelievably Hollywoodized (because a lot of 5-year olds are intimately aware of diseases that less than 1% of adults are), it eventually calms down, and the scenes between he and Bateman are indeed sweet - and I'm told reminiscent of About A Boy.

* I sure hope it was something he brought to the role, because if not, I'm kind of afraid of Patrick Wilson. He had some serious facial tics on display, and I don't think they were intentional. Can't keep his eyes focused, moves his head oddly, just some weird stuff.

Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."
Large Association of Movie Blogs

8 people have chosen wisely: on "Some thoughts on: The Switch"

Kano said...

Not that it seems to matter, but was the cigarette toss before or after she got pregnant?

It could be a slight memo to not smoke while pregnant.

But, since you state that there is never a cigarette shown before or after this event it still doesn't make sense. Just has me curious.

Mike Lippert said...

How dissapointed I was to find that The Switch was not an adaptation of Elmore Loenard's book of the same name that intorduced the world to Ordell and Lewis from Rum Punch/Jackie Brown

Fletch said...

Kano - The toss was before she was even artificially inseminated.

Mike - Now THAT is a movie I'd be interested in seeing. I loves me some Leonard adaptations.

oliveobrien1978 said...

This isn't being released until the end of the month over here. But to be honest, I'll probably go see it against my better judgment. I just can't refuse a romantic comedy.

Daniel Getahun said...

Hehe, well that's a bizarre one, to be sure. Of all the smoking examples I would think of, that would not be it. I notice more of the "characters always lighting cigarettes with matches" or "characters never finishing, stubbing out, and disposing of their cigarettes". But then I'm not a smoker, so maybe I'm not attuned the habits as much. Either way I will say that if I ever took one from my smoking friends' mouths it would not be funny for long.

Maybe it's the old adage of smoking on screen anyway - it's just a prop for characters to use so they can act natural and not have their hands at their sides. In this case, it could have been just a physical movement to break up the look of the scene! Is that a stretch?

I read elsewhere recently a theory about Aniston's career - that she is deliberately remaining single and/or in bad relationships because it allows her to continue starring in these ridiculous movies, pull down huge paychecks, and never get judged for it.

Kind of a kooky theory, but looking at her last decade on screen it's not entirely implausible. Except for the whole "sacrificing your love life for your career" thing.

Fitz said...

I would have casted Elizabeth Banks instead. Aniston, for whatever reason, keeps getting roles in comedies that she has no place trying to pull off.

Fletch said...

Olive - you could do a lot worse. There's just not much memorable to be seen here, aside from the Bateman/kid interactions.

Daniel - your theory is a strong one, but not for this movie. The entire smoking incident lasts all of about 4 seconds. She pulls it out of her pack in her purse, puts it to her lips, he snatches it and tosses it, and cigs are never to be seen again.

Haha, you read that theory in Bill Simmons' column, didn't you? I read that, too. I won't deny that her love life has indeed helped her career, but I don't buy for a second that it's been manufactured this way.

Fitz - See, I've never had anything against Aniston - she just doesn't bring a ton to the table. She's just fine in things like this, but absolutely forgettable. I haven't seen everything (The Good Girl, for starters), but from what I have seen, She's the One is still probably her best role, and even it was nothing special. She's more or less a Bullock clone, only we've known her just as long if not longer.

I like Banks more, so that couldn't have hurt...

Daniel Getahun said...

Yep, Simmons was it! I totally forgot who it was when I was thinking about it. He would have been the last person I thought of, but there it is. Either way his theory is pretty out there.